Sen. Scott Dibble says Legislature can pass gay marriage without GOP votes

Categories: GLBT, Legislature
Dibble plans to introduce the bill later in the session, which begins next week.
Sen. Scott Dibble hopes a few Republicans will come out in favor of legalizing gay marriage this year, but if they don't, he believes a bill can still pass.

Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis, plans to introduce a marriage equality bill into the Senate this session, he says. There hasn't been an internal vote count yet, but he estimates that if the votes aren't there yet among the DFL majority, "we are very close."

COVER: When will gay marriage be legal in Minnesota?
Gay marriage amendment defeated in Minnesota

For those DFL legislators who are on the fence, there will still be time to decide.

Dibble doesn't plan to introduce the bill until the tail end of the session, he says. In the meantime, the plan is to focus on fiscal issues. High up on that to-do list will be overhauling Minnesota's tax system.

As we reported in this week's cover story, the issue of gay marriage in Minnesota is complicated. Given that 75 of Minnesota's 87 counties actually voted in favor of a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, some DFL legislators -- particularly those in rural, socially conservative districts -- could find themselves in an uncomfortable position when it does come time to vote on the issue.

Dibble says the strategy for pushing a gay marriage bill is "still not super clear" at this point.

"We have to kind of get in the session, figure out the path," he says. "I'm hoping that marriage does not become this thing that completely and totally consumes all oxygen."

Similar to the "Vote No" campaign against the failed amendment, Dibble says he hopes to frame gay marriage in the context of a family matter, rather than a polarizing political issue.

"I know it sounds naive and optimistic, but this really should not be controversial," he says. "It's a simple matter. It's just folks making a commitment and taking responsibility for each other."

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green23 topcommenter

I'm going to respectfully disagree with MB and webcelt on this one. 

Attitudes on SSM are moving in the right direction, both nationally and state-wide. Progress can now be measured in terms of months, not years. Crushing the Amendment was a demoralising blow to the MNGOP and the evangelical Right, and it cast the Republicans as extremists on social issues in general. Pushing this issue now will risk all of that. It would be better to push for civil unions, and take the religious angle associated with marriage out of the equation completely. Time is on our side, after all.

The Republicans have squandered one of their biggest rhetorical advantages, which is being viewed as the safe, sane alternative. Instead, they have managed to convince voters that they are dangerous radicals controlled by religious extremists and shadowy moneyed interests. To now push the SSM issue further would cast the MNGOP as some kind of defence against the decadent, out-of-touch "libs" with sinister agendas. 

You have to choose your battles wisely in politics. Let the voters see that the DFL is the safe, sane alternative, and that the world won't be turned upside-down if you vote for a Democrat. Let candidates run on the issue in the midterms, rather than sneak it in as the MNGOP did with the Amendment.

MicheleBachmann topcommenter

The Dems are dumb to not take this chance.  I think it will happen.  It's a winner issue.  Minnesotans are tolerant nice people.  This kind of bill pushes the GOP further into the shrinking ranks of the stupid bigots.  Making the GOP embrace the crazy bigots makes it more and more impossible to win a majority in Minnesota.  Even older conservative people who are uncomfy with gays will think twice when the GOP is running Bachmann or any other bigot idiot that now control the GOP. 


It's not just a matter of how their districts voted. Its how the legislator's voters voted. The crossover should be all they need to be concerned about in the general election, and that depends on just how salient the issue is in two years. Also, they need to win the DFL nomination, and if they vote against legalizing marriage, their district's DFLers might find another candidate.

Here's maybe a wacky idea: vote to do the right thing.


@green23 I am more strongly persuaded to temporarily withhold legalization efforts by the SCOTUS plan to rule on the status of state DOMAs in the spring. If I were confident that SCOTUS would strike down state DOMAs then indeed struggling to overturn ours might be a waste of time. But (as I posted in my evaporated response below) what I don't agree with is shaping our policy based on what our opponents might object to. That way lies madness. Or at least complete ineffectiveness.

green23 topcommenter

@A1batross @scottdibble @govmarkdayton I'm as supportive as anyone of SSM, and I worked on the campaign to defeat the Amendment, but it would be profoundly stupid to adopt the demonstrably failed tactics of the Tea Party and purge the DFL of those who are "insufficiently liberal". The Democrats won largely because the Republicans are seen as too crazy, not because the State suddenly turned ultra-liberal. 

That's sad, but that's the reality. Pushing these social issues plays into the deepest fears of the rural Right, which is that the big-city libs want to destroy their "way of life" and forcibly control the the way that they think. It's a siege mentality. 

By 2016, enough of the fiercest opponents will have died off or completely lost credibility that SSM will be a slam-dunk. Pushing the issue in 2014 would be risky, but probably worthwhile. But raising the issue too soon, and having it defeated, makes raising it again infinitely more difficult, and I want it to pass. Time is on our side, but the current DFL and Governor really aren't.


@green23 Well, so much for my lengthy response reappearing (thanks, Livefyre login thing). The main point I will repeat is that I didn't suggest a purge, that was your word. If Governor Dayton were to call for repeal of DOMA in Minnesota he would provide cover to outstate legislators, who could reasonably argue they needed to fall in line. That's why I called for leadership.

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